Community Asset Transfer - frequently asked questions

  1. What is Community Asset Transfer?
  2. What Properties are available for Community Asset Transfer?
  3. Who can apply for a Community Asset Transfer?
  4. How do you apply for a Community Asset Transfer?
  5. What happens if more than one Community Transfer Body (CTB) is interested in the same asset?
  6. What support and guidance is available to Community Transfer Bodies?
  7. What would the Community Transfer Bodies be responsible for if the asset was to be leased?
  8. Who will the assess the Market Value of the property?
  9. Will the Council transfer the asset at less than market value?
  10. What information will be made available on the asset?
  11. Will the Council provide any legal assistance or property advice?
  12. How long does a transfer take?
  13. Will planning permission for any proposed change of use be required before a transfer can take place?
  14. Do I need to make an asset transfer request to take a lease of a Council asset?

What is Community Asset Transfer?

The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 introduces a right for community bodies to make requests to all local authorities, Scottish Ministers and a wide-ranging list of public bodies, for any land or buildings they feel they could make better use of. Community bodies can request ownership, lease or other rights, as they wish. The Act requires those public authorities to assess requests transparently against a specified list of criteria, and to agree the request unless there are reasonable grounds for refusal.


What Properties are available for Community Asset Transfer?

A request for Asset Transfer can be made on any property or land owned or leased by Falkirk Council. A list of these properties can be viewed here.


Who can apply for a Community Asset Transfer?

To make an asset transfer request, an organisation needs to be a "community transfer body" (CTB). This is defined in section 77 of the Act. It can be either a community controlled body (defined in section 19) or a body designated by the Scottish Ministers.

A community controlled body does not have to be incorporated, but it must have a written constitution, incorporating the provisions set out in the Scottish Government’s guidance and can be found using the link below.

http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/11/1889/5

A community controlled body which wants to make an asset transfer request for ownership must also be incorporated as a company, a SCIO (Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation) or a BenCom (Community Benefit Company), with a minimum of 20 members and provision for transfer of its assets on winding up. This is set out in section 80.  The Act does not require a community transfer body to be incorporated in order to make an asset transfer request for lease.


How do you apply for a Community Asset Transfer?

Further information, guidance and application forms are available by emailing property@falkirk.gov.uk or from the Council's website.


What happens if more than one Community Transfer Body (CTB) is interested in the same asset?

Each asset transfer request that is received must be processed in line with the procedures and timescales set out, even if further requests are received for the same land before the first has been concluded. There is no provision to allow Falkirk Council to delay a decision on one request until it has considered another, unless the CTB making the first request has agreed to an extension of the timescale. Ideally, all CTB’s interested in a particular property would work together to submit a single request, but it is recognised that this is not always practical.

Each asset transfer request that is received prohibits Falkirk Council from disposing of the land to anyone other than the CTB making that request, until it has been completed. Where there are multiple requests for the same land, this could result in overlapping prohibitions. The ultimate disposal of the land could not take place until all requests have been concluded, including any appeals.

If Falkirk Council decides to agree to one of the requests, it may be appropriate to include in the decision notice that the agreement is conditional on the prohibition imposed by the other request(s) being lifted. An application can be made to the Scottish Ministers for a direction to disapply the prohibition if necessary.


What support and guidance is available to Community Transfer Bodies?

Guidance on Community Asset Transfer is available from the Development Trusts Association Scotland's Community Ownership Support Service (COSS) website. Also CVS Falkirk will provide support, see www.cvsfalkirk.org.uk for further information.

A key named contact will be identified to co-ordinate the provision of advice and information from all other Council departments, as required.

The Council's Community Learning & Development Unit (CLD) works with community groups to build community capacity. The CLD can assist in accessing independent help, guidance and funding, see our Community Learning page for more information.


What would the Community Transfer Bodies be responsible for if the asset was to be leased?

Once the building has been leased, the CTB will be responsible for complying with all relevant legislation and for meeting all operating costs. It should be noted that additional support is often required particularly in relation to technical expertise around asbestos, health and safety, compliance with the Equality Act 2010, fire risks, legionella and related risks. The organisation should consider in advance how such issues will be addressed.


Who will the assess the Market Value of the property?

When the community transfer body requests information about the property, if an approximate indication of the market value is known by Falkirk Council this will be made available to the community body. It should be made clear that this value is indicative only.

Once the CTB has confirmed their interest and the property has been clearly defined, then the formal assessment of market value should be instructed. This is likely to be prior to the date of the Asset Transfer Request, during pre application discussions.

These valuations should be provided by either

  • the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) (the District Valuer), or
  • a suitably qualified and experienced independent valuer, registered with an appropriate professional body (such as RICS).

The valuations should be instructed jointly by the CTB and Falkirk Council with each party sharing the cost equally.  


Will the Council transfer the asset at less than market value?

The Council will consider the case for a transfer at less than market value where the need for this can be clearly demonstrated in the business plan. The business plan should set out the proposed benefits to be delivered by the CTB. For more information see:

www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/11/1889/13

In setting the price, regard will be had to community need and to the projected benefits associated with the proposal, in accordance with the requirements in the Disposal of Land by Local Authorities (Scotland) Regulations 2010.


What information will be made available on the asset?

Where available, information on running costs and building condition will be provided. It should be noted that the Council's costs are indicative only and may not be an accurate reflection of the likely costs to the CTB.  In all cases it is recommended that CTBs appoint suitably qualified professionals to undertake their own investigations in relation to their project.  The Council will not fund a condition survey as part of the transfer.


Will the Council provide any legal assistance or property advice?

No, for the Council to provide legal assistance or property advice would be a conflict of interest. Any organisation interested in applying for an asset transfer will need to seek (and fund) independent legal advice on the process and any transfer which is approved.


How long does a transfer take?

From the date the formal application for asset transfer is received by the Council it has 6 months to issue it’s decision. However there may be other CAT requests for the same property and or appeals of the Council’s decision that will extend the timeframe.

Additionally there will be considerable work required by CTB’s prior to submitting the formal application form. It is anticipated that the process should not take longer than 18 months.


Will planning permission for any proposed change of use be required before a transfer can take place?

Where planning permission is required for a change of use, as defined by the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Scotland) Order 1997, then it will be a condition of the transfer that planning permission is granted before the sale or lease of the asset is completed and asset transferred to the CTB.

Change of use is often not clear-cut and we advise you to contact the Duty Planning Officer at early stage to clarify if planning permission is required. A Duty Planning Officer is available on 01324 504950.

Further advice is available from the Council’s website:

www.falkirk.gov.uk/services/planning-building/development-management


Do I need to make an asset transfer request to take a lease of a Council asset?

No, in certain circumstances the Council will grant a lease over as asset. However the process for the publication of requests and notifications will be the same as that set out for a statutory asset transfer.